Cossmann Violins

Cossmann Violins

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To all of my customers -- current and potential --: do not try this at home.
Another great opportunity to help advance musical education in Austin. As someone who worked on children's issues in my previous career in government, I am particularly drawn to helping kids pursue their musical interests. Take a look. Maybe you will want to pitch in, too!
I am always fascinated by the variety of approaches to playing pieces at the core of Bach's canon. For example, I now have the Sonatas and Partitas by Nathan Milstein, Christian Tetzlaff, and Stanley Ritchie and the differences are delightful. I doubt that I ever will be able to point to my favorite, but I like it that way.

Handcrafting violins, violas, and cellos in the classic Italian tradition in Austin. Open by appoint Cooke, have called Austin home for nearly 25 years.

Why We Are in Business

Co-owners, Julian Cossmann Cooke and Heather J. They established Cossmann Violins with one overarching goal: to handcraft high quality violins, violas, and cellos and make them and their upkeep available to intermediate to advanced student players, as well as professionals, at prices that don’t break the bank. Most players, whether early in their playing careers, entering c

11/08/2021

Austin Soundwaves is holding their annual Fall Into Music instrument donation drive starting this week. If you have an instrument that you no longer use and would like to donate, they would greatly appreciate any donations. Their awesome and free outdoor kickoff concert will be on November 11th at 7pm. You can find out more at austinsoundwaves.org.

11/03/2021

Retired member of the Austin Symphony, Craig Casper, taking a few bows I am selling around the track on his Italian and German cellos. He provided invaluable feedback which I"ll pass on to the promising young American makers.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/29/2021

Custom tool for the next phase of bringing the bushings flush to the wall of the pegbox. This is a new Buck Bros screw driver, minus the yellow plastic handle. The shaft is flattened to create two sides and then each is rounded, one side less so than the other. The end of the former is very slightly curved. The other side of the end is beveled, though ideally less haphazardly than in the picture. (I was in school and in a hurry.) The slight rounding means there are no corners to dig into the bushing - or, worse yet, the varnish. Too tight a radius and you risk digging a hole into the bushing, potentially taking the edge below the surface of the pegbox wall when the whole point is a seamless transition between the two.

10/28/2021

Protecting the side of the pegbox while trimming the end of a stick bushing. Wood wears. Sometimes the peg holes need to be moved, sometimes just made smaller. Some folks prefer to use stick bushings, others spirals - very thin strips of maple rolled into cones and secured in the old holes with glue. My preference? Just let me do bushings. I like doing both.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/22/2021

Broken points plague your pencils? Frustrated at having to retire nubs before you've gotten all of your money's worth? Blackwing has your back. And your points. And your nubs.

10/21/2021

As Austin's weather trends toward autumn, a not-so-young man's fancy turns to...baking bridges. As with many things in our trade, there is no real consensus about this practice. Those of us who do bake, see it as a way of enhancing the stability of the maple from which the bridge is made.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/18/2021

This is the bandsaw that was in the shop of the deceased maker in Brownwood, TX, from which a number of colleagues are buying willow and sycamore. This behemoth is so tall I have to post two pictures to capture it from head to toe. It was unstable enough at that height that the owner had it soldered to the ceiling. They're asking $1,000 for it - you buy it, you move it.

10/15/2021

Time to see what's going on in this crack in the top of the widow's fiddle. I mean REALLY see. I love working with this old Bausch & Lomb microscope I bought several years ago on a surplus laboratory equipment website. Inspired by and his mentoring at and outside the Oberlin Restoration Workshop as so often is the case.

Looking into objects with a microscope and into the skies with a telescope have the same effect on me, creating a sense of wonder at what we naturally pass by in the hurly-burly of daily life. The microscope can expand the contemplative opportunities that present themselves to luthiers.

The imperative of making a living often steers us around those opportunities. But pause even for a few minutes, and we can be surprised by the things we see for the first time or just in new ways. Or we gain a new appreciation for how much we can never understand. Speaking now of things beyond lutherie.

10/14/2021

Shop music for the day.

10/11/2021

Sycamore. I get that it's not for everyone for an instrument back. But sinply as wood? Just blows me away.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/10/2021

Never found out the answer to the childhood question "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" But I'm OK with that. Because I'm too busy contemplating the question "How much would could a luthier use if a luthier could use wood?"

The more immediate question I was asking myself at day's end was where all the wood in my 20-year-old Subaru came from. The pictures that follow answer that question and give an idea of what was in this deceased maker's workshop. Or, I should say, what IS in the workshop. I would say literally another ton - almost all willow and sycamore.

To save a lot of IG back-and-forth messaging, if you may be interested in some of what's still to be had, PM me your email address and I'll make sure you get whatever information I put together. To the extent I can make this stuff accessible, it will be priced at cost with one condition. Buyers do not just flip the wood to turn a profit. This is all about paying forward rather than monetizing our good fortune. And about sharing that good fortune as widely as possible.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/08/2021

Machinist widow's fiddle completion project. Crack repair was intact, but glue line was practically black. Decisions decisions! Only because the family wants the build to retain the character of the maker's work. Citristrip made the decision, weakening the glue. Crack opened with modest, loving pressure. Better now than when I string it up. Now to put all of that amazing instruction from , and to good use. Of course, any flaws in the end result will be mine and mine only. #restoration

10/07/2021

Thought for a moment I was back in college (for the record, yes, I inhaled) when I saw this in the decapitated bass on my bench. Gave the stuff up 40 years ago - when it was still less potent. I am not a proponent today, preferring the high of the luthier life.

Turns out to be - for those not already familiar - equisetum, or horsetail, a plant many of us have used to burnish the plates and ribs on instruments after partially drying the sections and then moistening the inside with our breath. (Man, that's a germanically long sentence, though not nearly complex enough.)

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/06/2021

A few more items of interest from the late machinist's making project. I'll entertain guesses as to what the first one is - third one to correctly identify it gets a CV cleaning cloth or a CV luggage tag. Next is a pretty darn nice 1st scroll with some self-expression in the volute. Third: 1.6mm ribs bent and burned (it'll take some thought to get them down to 1.1). Finally, the book he used to walk him through the build.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/05/2021

A few of the handmade tools from the late machinist whose unfinished fiddle project I am completing for his widow and daughter. Lutherie tools in and of themselves are worthy of obsessive collecting. Handmades like these send the obsession-o-meter reading even higher.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 10/05/2021

A few detail shots of things the late machinist-maker left for me to use in assembling his fiddle. Russian olive tree sap-based varnish. (That batch pre-dated the far more traditional .) Sears liquid hide glue. The step-by-step book he used as a guide. And no, I have not lost my mind, just leading with the heart.

10/02/2021

$10 for a Juzek found in a MD thrift shop by my sister-in-law. I'll bring it back to life on the chance one of my grand-nephews ends up wanting to noodle around with it. Particularly fun given that the family still thrives ! .

10/01/2021

Can never have too many opening knives!

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 09/25/2021

More lute nut progression photos. Bone is an interesting material to work. Like ebony, it can chip easily at the edges. Unlike ebony, once the surface has been finished, the material is so slick, the file or saw insists on skating off-line. One of the reasons I wanted to make a new nut for the client is that, in the course of adjusting the old one, I learned the above lesson as well as approaching string spacing, the hard way. This time, I spot- glued the old nut so I could transfer the spacings which I checked with a divider. I then double-checked using feeler gauge blades. The shim made it possible to dial in the distance between the outer blades which sat in the original grooves to give the measurement being transferred. Tomorrow, the shaping of the ends - a rare opportunity for self-expression!

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 09/24/2021

Coming up for air. Evolution of a lute nut, replacing the old one on which I did some work the results of which I did not like. Next post: further shaping and transfer of string groove locations.

09/20/2021

The wood from which this scroll was made is still alive! Thanks to for pointing out this little gremlin.

Photos from Cossmann Violins's post 09/19/2021

Music for Sunday afternoon at the bench. Music you can wrap your fingers around. Known to most for her pop hit, "Midnight at the Oasis" (released in 1973, or so I am told by my grandparents😉), Maria Muldaur can sing some blues.

09/16/2021

From the stuff happens for no apparent rhyme or reason department. Crack just appeared out of nowhere. Uniform humidity. All the external sources of tension - strings, post - were gone and then it just appeared. Luckily, it's a new crack, so glue and clamp should be fine and if it opens back up, it will get a cleat at the end purfling and an eyebrow at the eye end. aroque

09/15/2021

Late summer Austin weather calls me out to the front porch for some bridge carving. Inspiration from examples from the Hill shop and others, courtesy of and his book Violin Bridges. The book features a teaser sampling of pics of nearly 1200 bridges which can be found at www.violinbridges.gerardkilbride.com. Thanks to whose post inspired me to move bridges to the head of the line of my many continuing education projects. # *t

Videos (show all)

The Texas Woodworking Festival is about to open its doors at Fair Market in East Austin.  Come on down and stop by the b...
Some of the video I am sharing with the 13-year-old owner of this viola -- regrettably not a Cossmann viola, but maybe o...

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207 Nelray Blvd
Austin, TX
78751

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm
Saturday 9am - 5pm

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